How Does Emotional Healing Differ From Physical Healing?

Updated October 21, 2020

Negative emotions, such as anxiety and stress, are normal parts of the human experience. Nonetheless, knowing this doesn’t make it any less difficult to cope with these feelings. Learning to heal from traumatic events or unhealthy attitudes can take people on many different paths. As you navigate this journey, you must learn how to address both your emotional pain and physical trauma. This will help you on your road to emotional healing.


When it comes to emotional healing and physical healing, these two journeys are often interconnected together. Emotional trauma can lead to physical illness if left untreated. Physical trauma can cause emotional pain. The journey toward healing can be a long and uncertain one, but it is possible to navigate with a little help and advice from a mental health professional.

Common Causes Of Emotional Trauma

Emotional trauma can be caused by several different events. Stressful and traumatic events, such as divorce or abuse, can severely impact your emotional health. Even a one-time event like a car accident or sports injury can cause severe trauma. Other possible causes of trauma include:

  • Going through a severe illness such as cancer or undergoing surgery
  • Experiencing the death of a loved one
  • Becoming injured from an attack
  • Living in an impoverished neighborhood overrun by crime
  • Suffering through an abusive relationship
  • Living through a natural disaster like an earthquake or fire
  • Witnessing an accident

Going through trauma can leave you feeling scared and overwhelmed. Even if this traumatic event occurred a while ago, it could still plague and hurt you if you leave it untreated.

Symptoms Of Emotional Pain And Trauma


People who struggle with emotional trauma often feel helpless and lost. Negative emotions and unpleasant memories plague them, making them feel distrustful of others. Sometimes, people are in denial of their trauma. Other times, they are confused and have trouble processing it. Everyone has a different response to trauma.

If you are experiencing these psychological symptoms after dealing with an extraordinarily stressful event, you might need some emotional healing:

  • Suffering from intrusive thoughts or memories of the event, often out of the blue
  • Nightmares
  • Feelings of shock or denial
  • Trouble sleeping or insomnia
  • Inability to maintain close and healthy relationships
  • Depression and hopelessness
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Irritability
  • Acting hostile toward others

Emotional Pain In Children And Teenagers

Trauma can occur early on in childhood. Adolescents who live in an abusive home environment, witness domestic abuse between their parents, undergo surgery, or go through a serious illness can develop trauma. Anything that disrupts a child’s sense of safety can cause trauma.


When you experience a traumatic event as a child, you can suffer from its repercussions long into adulthood. Seeking treatment for it as soon as possible is crucial for helping you overcome the pain it has caused and allowing you to reconnect with others. As you grow up, you must learn how to trust again and partake in emotional healing.

Treatment Options For Recovering From Emotional Pain And Trauma

People who suffer from problems with their mental health, addiction, ADHD, anxiety, or other symptoms as a result of trauma can typically undergo psychotherapy and group counseling. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is commonly used to treat cases of post-traumatic stress disorder.  Patients who have severe issues with their mental health, addiction, ADHD, anxiety, and other problems can learn how to challenge negative thought patterns to help them recover from their trauma.

Following a proper diet and fitness routine can also help ease traumatic symptoms. For some people joining support groups can help them learn how to cope and heal from their trauma. Medication may also help, depending on their situation and condition.

Signs You Might Have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

If you find that your symptoms are not improving or they are worsening over time, you might have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a serious mental illness that is triggered by experiencing a traumatic event. Most people associate PTSD with combat veterans. While veterans can be vulnerable to developing PTSD, people outside the military can also develop it. Physical abuse, sexual assault, or a severe accident can also cause PTSD.

Common symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Nightmares about the event
  • Experiencing severe emotional stress from triggers of the event
  • Flashbacks of the event that make you feel as though you are reliving it
  • Having trouble remembering certain parts of the event
  • Attempting to avoid talking about the traumatic event
  • Becoming detached from loved ones
  • Startling easily

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is crucial to see a doctor as soon as possible. They can refer you to a mental health professional who will formulate a treatment plan for you. The sooner you start treatment, the sooner you can put your life back on track.

Physical Trauma And Going Through Physical Healing


Physical trauma can coincide with emotional trauma when recovering from an accident, combat, or abuse. Anyone, regardless of age or gender, can suffer from physical trauma as a result of abuse or a serious accident. Children who have been abused often deal with negative physical ramifications on their mental and emotional development. If they experience any head trauma, this can also impact their emotional development as they grow older.

Victims of abuse can suffer from severe physical injuries, such as broken bones and burns. In extreme cases, this abuse results in death. In addition to psychotherapy and other emotional support services, they may need to go through physical healing to treat their injuries. Unfortunately, these injuries can sometimes have life-long effects on a child.

FAQ About Emotional Healing And Physical Healing

The emotional and physical healing process can be long and arduous. If you have questions about either of these processes, you can see if we answer any of them below. If not, you can contact the team at BetterHelp for more information.

How do you measure emotional intelligence?

When measuring one’s emotional intelligence, you need to consider its five key elements: self-awareness, social skills, empathy, motivation, and self-regulation. Many workplaces use tests like the Salovey, Caruso, and Mayer exams to test their employees’ emotional intelligence.

What does it mean if someone has a low level of emotional intelligence?

On average, people score a 75 out of 100 on the Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Appraisal® test. People who score lower than this typically have trouble controlling their emotions and getting along with others. People with low EQ are often argumentative, and will blame others and refuse to listen to them. Because they tend to be oblivious to other people’s emotions, they can often act insensitively

However, it is possible to improve your emotional intelligence. By practicing empathy and learning how to manage negative emotions, you can start to improve your relationships with other people.

Can physical therapy assist with emotional healing?

People who suffer from physical injuries often suffer emotionally as well. This could be caused by brain damage or as a result of having to cope with a severe injury. If you have suffered from a traumatic injury, physical therapy can help you heal emotionally from this event.

What happens if the trauma is left untreated?

Unresolved trauma can hurt you later on in life and can even make you vulnerable to experiencing further trauma. Symptoms such as anxiety, substance abuse, anger, and depression will continue to plague you. As a result, you may begin to develop physical symptoms as well, such as gastrointestinal problems or fatigue.

Can trauma ever go away?

With treatment, you can learn how to manage your symptoms over time. However, trauma never really goes away. You may be faced with situations that trigger different symptoms. Keeping up with your treatment plan is important for helping you cope with these situations whenever they arise.

How long does it take to recover from a traumatic incident?

It can take weeks to months to address what happened to you and learn to cope with it. That’s why it’s crucial to obtain help from a mental health professional. They will help you learn how to effectively cope with the trauma and manage your symptoms.

What are the three types of trauma?

The three main types of trauma are acute, chronic, and complex trauma. Acute trauma occurs when a singular event occurs, such as a car accident or theft, and compromises someone’s safety. Chronic trauma involves repeated events over some time. Domestic violence and exposure to combat can cause chronic trauma. Complex trauma typically occurs through multiple events. For example, domestic violence and civil unrest can cause complex trauma.

If you are struggling with a personal obstacle or difficult period of your life, there are resources out there that can help you. The mental health professionals at BetterHelp are ready to help you out.

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